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30 Sep

I enjoyed the movie Drive recently. Part of it took place in the often filmed Los Angeles river culverts, also featured in Grease, Terminator II, and Repo Man, among others.

After an exciting drive, the Driver, Irene, and Benicio find an intersection between the stark paving and a lush river. I didn’t believe this could actually exist so did some research and found this location on Google Maps in Reseda, a suburb of LA. Evidently, the channels are naturalized at a few points along the rivers path.

As is often the case, community members have insight into their surroundings:

Where the ugly old cement ends, there is still a hint of the wild river that the L.A. River used to be. Anal-retentive city planners, decades ago, decided a cement channel was the way to tame it. Pity.

– via Jerry Garrett

Now, the Ad Hoc River Committee and Friends of the Los Angeles River are part of a master plan to restore the naturalize much of the river, creating green space, supporting wildlife, and changing how stormwater is managed. This process will have significant environmental, economic, and social benefits for the surrounding communities.

It’s intriguing that the concrete channels have become a part of movie history and popular culture. Perhaps due to the moon-like quality and people’s ability to add life to unprogrammed spaces. Would people fight to keep this place?

Although there is no organized movement to preserve the channels, there are fans. But preserving these channels for their austerity is an inadequate reason. For now, allowing public access is building relationships with the natural and recreational potential of the river.

As interesting the barren channels are, the juxtaposition between wild in an urban setting is much more complex, rewarding, and valuable. The LA river restoration progress would become a part of cinema as well.



2 Aug

Mapnificent is a time-based transit travel map created by Stefan Wehrmeyer. The highlighted zone indicates the distance that can be traveled in 15 minutes in transit.


This Google Maps Application is a fantastic visual tool, revealing functional service levels of transit. Would be interesting to cross-reference this with other publicly available data such as density or property values.


Best Coast(er)

30 Jun

Bringing new meaning to neighborhood drinking, these coasters by industrial designer Anders Hansen are formed from the street grids of parts of Oslo. I would love one for my neighborhood!


Human Geography

21 Feb

Mapping is a powerful tool for visualizing and understanding connections and context. I have shared maps that imitate life and life imitated my maps.

Beyond the apparent geography and proximity, maps expose a range of subterranean information. For example, creative uses of mapping to investigate social inclusion. 

Adding a beauty to the complexity of maps, Matthew Cusick uses maps as source material for collages. Inspired by topography, he likes to “catalog, archive, and arrange information and then dismantle, manipulate, and reconfigure it.”

The textured and intricate assemblages highlight the intangible aspects of maps. Seeing freeway maps take on their three-dimensional form brings to the forefront the influence infrastructure has on our cities and our lives. For me, Geronimo, is the most thought-provoking of the works, directly addressing issues that are still raw and unresolved. 

via Jason Hilgefort via oddity central


Cartozoology Update!

9 Sep

Rather than discovering shapes in city maps, Sudan has plans to re-design a number of cities in animal form.

Sudan Rhino

The image above is the proposal for Juba, the southern capitol, with the city’s regional president office occupying the ‘beast’s eye.’  Other shapes to be implemented include a giraffe and pineapple, to correspond with images on the state flags.

Funds for the $10 billion project have not yet been secured.

via PSFK and BBC


I Spy

25 Aug

The future of planning?

Cartozoology n. The science or practice of discovering and studying animals outlined paradigmatically by street layouts as they appear on maps, especially with reference to physical evidence of the animals’ presence in the corresponding terrain


Moving Targets

23 Jun

I would love to see this map for Canada.

And even better, for the world! It would be amazing to visually represent our multicultural cities and countries.